CNN and Univision’s Democratic presidential debate, unusual in that it was held in-studio without and audience because of the coronavirus crisis, drew a combined 10.87 million viewers Sunday, according to the fast national figures from Nielsen.
That is a dropoff from the 15.3 million viewers for the last debate, held on February 25 in Charleston, SC, when there were still seven candidates participating. But CNN said that the audience was the largest for any of the events it has sponsored this cycle.
The coronavirus crisis dominated the early part of the debate, as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders outlined how they would address the pandemic. The debate originally was scheduled to be held in Phoenix, but the fears of the virus’ spread forced CNN and the Democratic National Committee to scrap a live audience and move the event to the CNN studio in Washington, D.C.
The high mark for a debate this cycle came last month, when NBC News and MSNBC drew almost 20 million viewers for a presidential debate in Las Vegas. It set a record for the most watched Democratic debate.
CNN said that almost 10 million total viewers watched on the network, and 848,000 on Univision.
The debate also drove traffic to CNN Digital, which had 3.9 million total day live streams and 2.5 million during the debate. That was the largest number for this cycle.